Monday, 30th October 2017

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Chinese mountaineers begin Everest ascent

Only Chinese climbers are permitted this spring season because of the pandemic

By PTI, Reuters in Beijing
  • Published 5.04.20, 12:35 AM
  • Updated 5.04.20, 10:13 AM
  • 2 mins read
Mount Everest Telegraph picture

A group of Chinese mountaineers has begun an expedition to Mount Everest as China limped back to normalcy after the coronovirus outbreak.

The site, however, remains closed to foreign climbers.

The highest peak of the world stands on the border of China and Nepal and can be climbed from both sides. China has closed its side to foreign climbers while Nepal has cancelled all expeditions in response to Covid-19.

Only Chinese climbers are permitted this spring season because of the pandemic, operators told the BBC.

China has suspended foreign expeditions on the north side of 8,848-metre Mount Everest in Tibet during the spring climbing season of 2020 due to the global spread of the coronavirus.

The Tibet Mountaineering Association (TMA) announced during the second week of March that while China has made great progress in containing the coronavirus disease, its rapid global spread still brings uncertainty and danger.

If a climber were infected, the high altitude and rough terrain on Mount Everest knowns as Qomolangma in Tibetan would make it difficult to provide appropriate treatment, the association said.

More than two dozen Chinese climbers tackling Mount Everest are expected to reach the advanced base camp at an altitude of 6,450 metres (four miles) on Friday, expedition operators in touch with the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) said.

Mountaineering record-keepers say that if the climbers make it to the summit, it would be a very rare case of only Chinese climbers at the peak.

“In Spring 1960, only the Chinese reached the summit. The Indians tried, but failed,” said Richard Salisbury, with the Himalayan Database, an organisation that keeps records of all expeditions in the Himalayas.

Western expedition operators said China did not allow them to climb this spring season because of fears over a new outbreak of the virus, the BBC report said.

The coronavirus pandemic had first emerged in central China three months ago, killing around 3,300 people in the country.

China says it has now all but stopped the spread of the disease and the authorities have started to allow some access to Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the outbreak began.

Border restrictions

China’s southwestern Guangxi region, which has borders with Vietnam, has suspended cross-border passenger transportation and restricted exit of citizens from the country amid concerns of an increase in imported coronavirus cases.

It has closed most ports except for a few being used for freight transportation, the Guangxi health commission said in a statement late on Friday.

Regions around China’s porous borders with Southeast Asia have been scrambling to plug border gaps as thousands flood into a country seen as a safe haven in the global war against the coronavirus pandemic which has infected more than 1 million people globally.

As of Friday, the total number of confirmed cases across the country stood at 81,639, including 19 new infections, of which 18 were imported cases, the National Health Commission said.

Guangxi’s recent move does not allow Chinese citizens to leave China through land or waterway transportation.

Businesses involved in foreign aid projects, foreign investment, technical support and emergency medical assistance have to submit a written application and a list of exit personnel to the epidemic prevention and control headquarters in the district where the exit port is located, and leave the country collectively after approval.